Court allows new hearing in death row case

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- The Kentucky Supreme Court has allowed a death row inmate a hearing to determine whether he and his trial judge had a deal to avoid execution.

Donald H. Johnson claims he and his attorneys met off the record with Floyd County Judge John David Caudill and he agreed to plead guilty in exchange for life without parole for 25 years.

Caudill denies the meeting occurred.

The high court ruled that because Caudill will likely be a witness, a special judge should be appointed.

The 41-year-old Johnson was convicted for the 1989 murder of Heather Madden, who was found stabbed to death at the coin-operated laundry where she worked.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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